Today Americans for Tax Reform led a coalition of conservative groups asking the Federal Communications Commission to deny a request that would revive a dead petition for rulemaking that would allow two-way use in the 12.2 – 12.7 GHz spectrum band. 

See the letter below and linked to here

Allowing this petition to move forward could disrupt the development of certain satellite networks that have the potential of providing high-speed broadband across the entire country. 

Proponents of the petition believe freeing up this portion of the spectrum would speed-up America’s deployment of 5G technologies. However there are no current standards for 5G technology in 12.2 – 12.7 GHz spectrum and it could take the International Telecom Union – the body that allocates spectrum globally – almost a decade to give us 5G access.  

The deployment of 5G technology is critical to American success at home and abroad, but granting this petition would create confusion and actually slow our deployment. 

The opportunities and innovation that will come from providing every American with high-speed broadband outweigh any benefit that could come from allocating this spectrum for 5G. 

You can read our full letter to the FCC below and here.   

October 16, 2020


Marlene H. Dortch
Federal Communications Commission 
445 12th Street, S.W. 
Washington, DC 20554 

Re: Petition for Rulemaking to Permit MVDDS Use of the 12.2-12.7 GHz Band for Two-Way Mobile Broadband Service, RM-11768

Dear Chairman Pai,

The undersigned have a fulsome record supporting the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to expand access to spectrum that will allow 5G services; however, we respectfully request that the Commission deny the Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service (MVDDS) petition for rulemaking and calls to move forward with their NPRM regarding two-way use in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band. 

The FCC has made leaps and bounds in connecting the unconnected in unprecedented times. One of the ways the Commission has pursued these goals is by approving novel provisions of broadband service. As such, in 2018 the FCC licensed several Low Earth Orbit (LEO) non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite constellations that will utilize the 12Ghz band, which is shared with Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), in order to provide high-speed broadband internet to rural and remote users to help close the digital divide. 

Just two years following FCC authorization in 2018, the U.S. is leading the world with nearly 800 satellites deployed, billions of dollars in private capital invested, thousands of U.S. jobs created, and initial service started.  While satellite broadband service has been available for years this new generation of satellites employs updated technologies that promise to cover the nation with true high-speed broadband, including gigabit speeds, and latency acceptable for a wide variety of uses, including Internet of Things (IoT) which provide exciting opportunities and applications that can only be deployed via satellite.

With the success of these networks, the Commission could achieve at least two of its goals:
1)    Universal high-speed broadband access – the opportunity to connect the unconnected in unserved areas.
2)    Increased competition in the market for the provision of high-speed broadband services, that may drive down consumer costs.
In an effort to connect all Americans, this Commission has unanimously supported the deployment of low earth orbit satellite networks. These networks may very well be the solution for closing the digital divide and connecting rural areas without service. While the petitioners’ goal is providing more options and new entrants for 5G, that goal comes at a cost of severe interference to the latest generation of satellite broadband networks that are a year out or less from providing full service.

IP traffic will dramatically increase in the coming years  and these satellite networks will add to the options and opportunities families and businesses have to access the internet and offload mobile traffic. Any arguments citing the expected dramatic increases in internet traffic highlight the need for these new competitive broadband options, not for interfering with them. The Commission should not hamstring these efforts just as they are about to become available to millions of Americans.

Changing the rules now would pull the rug out from U.S. NGSO systems just as broadband service is starting. It would negatively impact investment and materially degrade the ability for these systems to provide service to consumers, especially in remote and rural areas  where 5G is a very very distant reality. 

Competition drives down prices. Research from US Telecom published on September 16, 2020 shows that speeds are increasing and prices are dropping. “The most popular tier of broadband service in 2015 is now priced 20.2 percent lower and offers 15.7 percent faster speeds in 2020,” and “the highest speed offerings in 2015 are now priced 37.7 percent lower and offer 27.7 percent faster speeds in 2020 on an average.”  This is only among residential fixed broadband competitors.

Joining the mix, at least one satellite provider will offer speeds of up to a gigabit per second and latencies from 25 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds.  These speeds will compete in a very real way with fiber, cable, DSL, satellite, 5G, and other broadband offerings. All types of broadband services compete with each other and having more providers in the market drives down prices for everyone – in rural and urban areas. Relegating this service only to rural areas, because of the new interference proposed by Petitioners, could rob the satellite sector from attracting sufficient customers to justify full deployment.

Use of this spectrum would not significantly enhance American’s position in the race to 5G. The 12GHz Band is not optimal for 5G.  The need right now is mid-band spectrum in the range of 2GHz to 6GHz. The 12GHz spectrum clearly has utility, but, due to well-known propagation and capacity constraints, telecom companies actively building and deploying networks have not made it a primary target, especially for deployment into rural areas.

There are no 5G technology standards in the pipeline for this band and receiving new ITU allocations for global 5G access could take nearly a decade. Many in the record have argued that – were the FCC to grant this petition – the spectrum should go back up for auction under the new allocation,  which would further delay deployment for any of the suggested technologies such as, fixed broadband, mobile and IoT. These are all technologies that MVDDS is not likely to deploy quickly since it is not itself a 5G technology nor it has not developed methods of broadband connectivity in the last 15 years.

Deploying 5G technologies is not incompatible with the nation’s goal, and this Commission’s goal, of connecting all Americans to high-speed broadband. However, creating harmful interference with these new satellite networks is incompatible with the nation’s goal of every American having the opportunity to connect to high-speed broadband, if they choose. Satellite systems must be part of the critical infrastructure for delivery into rural areas.

For these reasons, the undersigned request you deny the MVDDS modification petition.


Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Steve Pociask
President / CEO
American Consumer Institute

Krisztina Pusok
Director of Policy and Research
American Consumer Institute
Tom Schatz
Citizens Against Government Waste

Jeffery Mazzella 
Center for Individual Freedom

Matthew Kandrach
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs

Brandon Arnold
Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

James L. Martin
60 Plus Association

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
60 Plus Association

Jim Dunston
General Counsel